This isn’t the post I’d planned, but it’s the one you’re getting.
After Louise left Paris, Angie and I spent a fair amount of time on our long walks those last few days talking about what we were bringing home from the trip. And by “bringing home,” we meant ideas, new points of view or reference – those sorts of intangibles that can extend the joy of a vacation forward (and onward) into the lives we lead regularly. I talked, I think, mainly about my garden – which I’d pulled out right before the trip. Don’t worry, ecstatic green-thumb neighbors came over at my listserv invitation and dug the shrubs and plants up and took them. Now I’m left with mostly nothing out front and various ideas about how it might become more formal, more restrained.
I only bought one perfume as a token of the trip – from the Parfums de Nicolai store on the Rue Grenelle near the Bon Marche, and I recommend this as a must-do for anyone who wants to drink deep from the chalice of PdN. I think Louise and Angela both made purchases, and the extremely knowledgeable and gracious sales associate (Rebecca? Deborah?) was a joy to spend an hour with. Anyhow, I bought the last-ish bottle of their discontinued LE parfum d’ambience called Parfum de Fete, about which I know nothing except that it’s going to be reissued as part of their regular room spray collection, with a different name (perhaps to avoid being confused with Temps d’Une Fete). On me – yes, of course I’m wearing it on my skin – it’s all warm pipe smoke and honey, drying down to honey honey honey, with a spice-wood note like that of CdG Palisander bringing some good cheer along for the ride. I also put on Odalisque in the shop as a joke; it seemed so very much not me with all of its muguet-soap top fading to a powdery floral, and kill.me.now (notes: LOTV, jasmine, iris). Only fate laughs at me for the fool that I am, and I can’t stop thinking about the drydown, sweet candied jasmine with a hint of skank; it’s the only non-purchase I regret. But that’s remedied easily enough online here in the U.S., and PdN makes those great small bottles.
But I won’t be buying Odalisque, not this week. Because events collided oddly. I wanted so much to hold on to that wonderful sense of peace and place I bring home from a vacation. Time stepping out of my “normal” life is clearly part of maintaining my sanity. But bit by bit it was slipping away, back into Angry Suburban Idiot Mom mode – plus there was Hecate with her intractable night-time cough; and my brief but nasty personal bout of what I think was food poisoning last weekend. And the dog, our sub-standard poodle, Kai, who’s sick with something and the vet’s not sure and he’s 11 and … well, you never know. I, who complain sometimes about that damn dog breathing my air, have been getting up every night with him, on my knees in front of him, holding a small bowl so he’ll drink some chicken broth. I don’t know. He seems a little better. He kept some soup down today, but he’s weak. Nobody’s getting enough sleep. The Big Cheese is leaving for China on Thursday for an extended trip, and you know what? I don’t have dog dies scheduled anywhere on my calendar, so he better not. No freaking way. No dying.
So then I pitched a fit – one of those crap-related fits about the creeping loads of crap that pile up all over the house, I hate disorder (yeah, which is why I had four kids, deep thinker that I am) – piles and drifts of clothes and plastic and toy parts and we did a purge and still. It drifts in. So I started this conversation on FaceBook and I’m bringing it on here and laying it down. You don’t have to pick it up if you don’t want to, it’s my little experiment. But if you want to play – starting today, Wednesday, for the next week you will limit your purchases to only the most basic necessities — and no b.s.’ing yourself about what a “necessity” is. I’m talking simple food (no, you don’t need the $5 pint of kiwi-mango gelato), gas, stuff like that. No mall runs, emergency lipstick, drunken eBay bids on Dioressence extrait at 1 a.m. – no Starbucks, people! No movies! You can go ahead and do things you’ve already bought tickets for, but no goodies at halftime (or intermission.) No online shopping. No no no. Ask yourself, when your eye/heart starts to drift: do I really need that? And then back away.
Can I do this for a week? Eh. I’m not sure. But I’m curious enough to try. I need more possessions like I need a third eye. So far I got through today with nothing more than taking Hecate (finally) to the pediatrician about the Nighttime Cough From Hell, which will abate eventually whether we do anything or not, our annual springtime allergy ritual. Turned down therapeutic coffee at Sbux (sad face). Stayed off eBay. Worked. Also I thought I’d up the ante by quitting drinking coffee altogether, I haven’t had any since the Saturday food poisoning episode. I’ve had this massively irregular heartbeat recently, and I’m wondering if all the Sudafed/caffeine’s the culprit. (Filed under: duh.) Let’s find out. Sure, it’ll be miserable, but I’m like that – why not take away the coffee, decongestant, booze (yes, it’s true!) and retail therapy all at the same time? Maybe my head will cave in and life as I know it will be over, but I doubt it.
So. Your turn at the microphone. Are you going to join in, and check back with us next week on how your Week of Consumer Abstinence went? Patty’s accepted my challenge, she’s playing as well, and we’ll blog on it! Do you think I am an idiot? A killjoy? Do you have specific questions for us to debate (or possibly mock) regarding what constitutes a necessity in your world? What’s your favorite Parfums de Nicolai scent, anyway? Is Odalisque really All That? What is wrong with me that after several attempts I have failed to fall in love properly with PdN Sacrebleu – some glitch in the planetary alignment? Do you feel consumed by the desire to consume? And PS – yeah, I know, I hardly invented this concept. Oh! I should mention that the straw that put the camel’s MasterCard on temporary lockdown was my sitting down last night, a quiet time-out in the living room post-snit, and reading an article in the Sunday NY Times about Annie Leonard and the (warning! anti-consumerist!) Story of Stuff.